hair raiser

Hair on fire: Pakistani barber replaces scissors with flames for nuanced hairstyles

Shafqat Rajpoot's technique is extraordinary, even if it is not entirely his own invention.

The city of Bahawalpur in Pakistan has a hot new trend for cool haircuts.

Barber Shafqat Rajpoot has started it, but it seems his competitors don’t want to play with fire. Literally.

For, Rajpoot sets his client’s hair on fire and quickly brushes through the flames to give the hair a “bouncy effect”. He calls his style “fire-cutting” and right now customers cannot help but give it a try.

Rajpoot can be seen applying some powder and sprinkling drops of a flammable liquid that catches fire for a minute. In his interview to AJ+ Arabi below, he reveals some details about his technique, though not his secret formula for setting people’s hair on fire: “No sir, it’s my own creation.”

It only works with dense and long hair, though, as “the hair gets layers and it opens up”. Those with sparse hair may end up having their scalp burnt if they insist on the treatment.

Meanwhile in Rafah, a Palestinian city, daring customers take themselves to Ramadan Odwan’s salon to get a similar haircut.

But the 37-year old hairdresser, who has been in business for 18 years, insists that he isn’t imitating anyone. “We (Gazans) can come up with ideas and creativity,” said Odwan to Reuters.

Using fire to cut hair is apparently a traditional method, says Franco Bompier, an Italian who still believes that his old way is the best in this age.

The video below by Great Big Story follows Bompier in the last of the traditional barber shops in Milan, cutting hair with candles. He says that the flame makes the hair fuller, and stops it from falling out.

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In Brazil, candle-cutting or “velaterapia” is known for singeing off split-ends. It involves running a candle flame along twisted strands of hair. Time guesses that the origins of this technique lie in ancient civilisations or among pioneering beauties such as Cleopatra, who supposedly had her locks singed regularly to get the well-known “thick, glossy, waterfall look”.

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